Even if the novelty factor of Babymetal has worn off in recent years, you feel it’s inevitable that they’ll be a mainstay for many years to come.
For their third album, ‘Metal Galaxy’, you certainly know what to expect at this point; you’ll either be fully in on the ride, or completely averse. It’s also worth noting this is the first effort since founding member Yuimetal‘s departure a year ago.
After the pulsating IDM of ‘Future Metal’, complete with a robotic vocal, we launch into ‘Da Da Dance’. The pulsating guitar riffs and killer vocal hooks mean we’re off to a flyer. As ever, this is the sonic equivalent of a sugar rush; everything is over-the-top but in a fun way, helped by the almost trance-like drum beat. ‘Elevator Girl’ also helps to keep the strong hooks game up.
But what follows is a left-turn even by their standards, coming in the form of ‘Shanti Shanti Shanti’ when we see some Eastern influences creeping in. And the even more ridiculous ‘Oh! Majinai’, assisted by Joakim Brodén (Sabaton), sets that particular precedent even higher.
The more pop-rock leaning ‘Brand New Day’ may not be among their strongest offerings, but it’s still an example of how Babymetal can offer more than their surface-level hyperactivity.
Further highlights still follow, though. ‘Night Night Fun’ will leave you wanting to dance as well as head bang, and ‘Distortion’‘s tight, rhythmic intro followed by a typically infectious chorus makes it one of the strongest songs in their canon.
Thai rapper F.Hero helps to add an idiosyncratic air to ‘Pa Pa Ya!!’ – parts of this album aren’t for everyone for sure, but when many generic bands and songs pass into your ears, something like this that leaves you with something to talk about is more than welcome.
But, while ‘BxMxCx’ offers more diversity, the repeated lyrics grate a little. Even by their standards, this is a bit much, and other tracks like ‘In The Name Of’ could’ve perhaps been cut completely. As is the case previously, Babymetal may have more strength as a singles band as opposed to their albums – it’s surely tempting to throw everything at the wall and hopefully create a Pollock painting, but chances are not everything will stick.
Thankfully, the ballad ‘Shine’ offers adept changeovers and an invigorating bridge, and ‘Arkadia’ closes the album on a strong note.
Whilst this could do with more consistency and a shorter length, Babymetal can undoubtedly still command respect and attention. ‘Metal Galaxy’ will delight their fanbase with its diverse palette, and the band’s maintained un-ignorable aura.